Featured Coverage

The Festival of Faith & Writing Announces Its 2016 Lineup and Introduces a New Director

Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, MT Anderson, Christian Wiman, and Nadia Bolz-Weber among 70+ featured speakers at the Calvin College event

The Calvin English Department welcomes Lisa Ann Cockrel as the new Festival Administrative Director

Friday, September 4

Grand Rapids, MI (Friday, September 4, 2015) – Celebrated authors Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, MT Anderson, Christian Wiman, and Nadia Bolz-Weber will be among 70+ writers visiting the Calvin College campus this spring to participate in the 2016 Festival of Faith & Writing, April 14-16. Now in its 25th year, the biennial literary festival attracts close to 2,000 avid readers to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend lectures, workshops, readings, concerts, and plays that explore and celebrate religious expression in literature.

A full list of the speakers confirmed so far is now available at festival.calvin.edu/festival-2016/speakers/. The roster of novelists, poets, playwrights, journalists, editors, songwriters, essayists, theologians, and more will be updated as it continues to expand in the run up to the April 14-16, 2016 event.

“Given that the Festival of Faith & Writing is a production of the English Department of Calvin College, it makes sense that the book is our center of gravity, but our festival celebrates excellent writing and storytelling across mediums,” says Lisa Ann Cockrel, newly appointed administrative director of the festival. Cockrel joined the festival over the summer after a 15-year career in magazine and book publishing, most recently with Brazos Press and Baker Academic. “I attended my first Festival of Faith & Writing when I was a senior in college and haven’t missed one since. This community of readers has been a vital source of insight, inspiration, and camaraderie for me for many years, and it’s a thrill to be able to invite others into this conversation.”

The Festival of Faith & Writing began in 1990 as an exploration of the communities made and served by religious writing. Since its inception, the Festival has brought in both new and established talent to speak about a variety of issues related to faith, ethics, justice, and the craft of writing. Over the last two decades more than 13,000 students and lifelong learners have heard from hundreds of renowned authors including Maya Angelou, John Updike, Marilynne Robinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elie Wiesel, Chaim Potok, Eugene Peterson, Katherine Paterson, Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Kate DiCamillo, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Safran Foer.

Lisa Ann Cockrel takes the reins from Shelly LeMahieu Dunn, who served as Festival administrative director since 2006. LeMahieu Dunn succeeded in expanding and professionalizing the festival, relieving English department faculty of the day-to-day management details. From just a couple hundred attendees in 1990 to a couple thousand projected to attend in 2016, LeMahieu Dunn helped the English department expand the festival’s footprint while nurturing the egalitarian spirit of hospitality that has always been at its heart. After five festivals, LeMahieu Dunn is leaving to spend more time on the farm she and her husband recently purchased. The English Department wishes her well with gratitude for all she has done on behalf of the Festival.

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